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Abbeylara Abbey Church
 

County

Longford

Coordinates

N 53° 45' 52.5"   W 007° 26' 45.8"

Nearest town

Granard

Grid Ref.

N 36583 79568

Map No.

41

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

89

Date of visit

Friday 27 May 2011

GPS Accuracy (m)

7
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The view of the abbey while approaching from the path in the field.


It is said that St. Patrick founded an early monastic settlement here in 460, but the present building was built by Sir Richard Tuite, after he built his motte and bailey in Granard around 1200. The Cistercian abbey was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and it was granted eighteen cartrons of land (equal to 1080 Irish acres or 708 hectars). Sir Richard never saw the completion of the abbey because he died in 1211 in Athlone when a large piece of masonry accidentally fell on him from a tower.
In 1315 the abbey was seized by Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce king of Scotland, who spent the winter in the building. The monks returned to the abbey in 1316.
The church became the burial place of the O'Farrell family who ruled the area. The monastery was dissolved in 1539. During the following years the abbey fell in disrepair and it was in ruins before the dissolution of the monastery under Henry VIII.
What we can mainly see today is a large archway in the west wall, while on the north side of the south wall is a stone figure that may be a sheela-na-gig. It is strange in that it's facing inside the building rather than outside like all other sheelas.
The winding staircase on the south wall can still be climbed for 28 steps.


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